Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strategy Groups and Empowerment

This summer I had a chance to sit down and actually read The Literacy Cafe. Wow - I fell in love! There are a lot of really great elements that our reading program already offered. I easily found ways to tweak things and make them work within my classroom. One of the biggest changes that I did was utilizing strategy groups in the place of guided reading. I don't know about your district but ours is VERY specific about the structure of the reading block. I am required to meet with three guided reading groups daily for twenty minutes each. Well I have a wonderful instructional specialist who okayed the idea of using strategy groups for one day a week. Once I started I was hooked! It is something different for the kids and the nice thing is that the groups really do become more flexible. I do find that my highest readers usually end up in the same strategy group but I'm able to focus in more on authentic reading skills so it's still beneficial.

 Let me back up and tell you a little bit about how I go about forming a strategy group. Since there are strict requirements within our reading block I am limited to the amount of reading conferencing that can actually take place. I must take detailed notes during guided reading time to pinpoint issues that some students have. I compare notes to see if the same strategies are needed with multiple children - thus forming a group!

After I pick a strategy we usually take Thursday and Friday to work on that strategy. I have a CAFE board where the students have a visual reminder of their focus strategy. Sometimes the strategy is easily learned. The group fizzles out and I must choose a new skill. Other times we spend a lot of time on that skill. When we learned about making meaningful connections with nonfiction we spent about 3 weeks meeting and discussing ways to track our thinking!

Lately my strategy groups have been geared more towards the coaching aspect. I'm really working hard to empower my readers to internalize many of the strategies that we are doing. That being said I have started using the word 'expert' quite a bit. The kids take great pride in being the expert at the table. Inadvertently I stumbled upon a gold mine. It was tough for the kids to remember who was an expert at what. So to combat that problem......

Introducing a nameplate that we are attaching to our book bins!

Reece is a great reader and can really help kids visualize. We practiced doing one minute quick sketches on post it notes for each page in the book. Then we lay the post it notes side by side to do a quick picture retell at the end of the chapter.

Jenna Brooke is an RtI student but she is awesome at using graphic organizers. How cool is is that she has found a resource to help her comprehend? Best of all she is a great mentor to the other readers.

. The kids are so proud of their accomplishment and being an expert at something. It makes it easy for me because I can help partners during partner reading time to find a meaningful buddy.

I wanted to do the vinyl name tags but after thinking it over this allows their strategies to easily change.

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea. I know your students are being challenged. Enthusiasm is contagious and I bet you can see it in your students.